Following the Annual Council Meeting, held on 23 May, where membership of Council committees is decided, Trish, Richard and Louise have important new responsibilities. Trish has been elected Mayor of Sutton for the third consecutive year. Richard will chair the Council’s Planning Committee. Louise is a member of the important Housing, Economy and Business Committee, which takes major strategic decisions on housing policy and proposals for economic regeneration.


On 5 May 2022 Louise was elected to Sutton Council, joining Trish and Richard as Councillors for Sutton South Ward. Louise – Louise Phelan – has lived in Sutton for over 20 years and her son attends Overton Grange school in our Ward. She is an active member of many local community organisations and was a leading member of the Sutton New Town Community Festival, serving as chair of the organisation.


Trish and Richard were delighted by the victory of the Liberal Democrats in the North Shropshire by-election held in December. Voters were horrified by the attempt of Boris Johnson to save the political career of the previous MP, who drew his salary as a Tory MP but made a massive fortune from other jobs. There is also no doubt that a factor was the deep unpopularity of the Conservative proposals to emasculate the element of local democracy in the planning system. This is of particular concern in places like Sutton, where developers will destroy our pleasant and green local environment if given a free reign.


Dunsfold Court in Blackbush Close is nearby and residents already say it is difficult to find a parking space

There are two proposals for tower blocks in Brighton Road, almost opposite each other, submitted by developers, that Trish and Richard are fighting. One is on the eastern side of the road close to Cavendish Road. This proposal for a five storey block with 36 flats but only four parking spaces has been rejected by Sutton Council planning officers on a number of grounds including design. Richard said of both proposals:

“While we need more accommodation these blocks, with little adjacent green space, are of poor design and would be blots on the landscape.”

The other proposal is almost opposite at the junction with Copse Hill. Developers have twice submitted proposals for this new tower block at the corner of Copse Hill, to be built after demolishing 2 and 4 Copse Hill, plus 52 and 54 Brighton Road. While housing is needed, we have also opposed this development as – unlike Dunsfold Court and Leith Towers nearby – it would have little green space around the site, and the parking provision proposed was inadequate, adding to parking pressures in the area. The block would be ugly, overbearing and a blot on the landscape.

These proposals were rejected by Sutton Council and the developers appealed to the remote Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, thus seeking to overturn democratic local decision taking. We are delighted that the Inspectorate has twice thrown out the proposals. They cite concerns over the overbearing character and appearance of the proposed block, a lack of outdoor amenity space (play areas and garden) and the mix of housing proposed (the number of small one bedroom flats). The Inspectorate rejected concerns about flooding and did not comment on our concerns over parking.

This may not be the end of the story so we will watch out for further proposals. Radical changes to planning arrangements were proposed in the recent White Paper on planning from the Conservative Government, proposals that in some areas would abolish these arrangements for comment on planning applications and lead to proposals being automatically agreed. Pressure from the Liberal Democrats, and our victory in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, where planning changes was an issue, seems to be forcing a re-think, but these proposals are still, as of now, Government policy. These Government proposals would remove the right of local residents to comment on planning applications, in some circumstances. Richard made a speech at Sutton Council on 12 July attacking these proposals, which undermine local democracy.

The site of the proposed block, viewed from Brighton Road


Richard with the tree we got planted at White Lodge Close

We have a manifesto commitment to plant more trees, to improve air quality, combat global warming and promote the green, suburban feel of Sutton. We will be planting new trees in the next few months in Downside Road, Upland Road, Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue.

We were delighted when, in accordance with the commitment to plant more trees to combat global warming, two new trees were planted in early 2021 in The Ridgway. The story concerning the tree outside number 23 is interesting. Many years ago there was a tree pit here and a tree. The tree died. Contractors tarmaced over the tree pit. The tarmac would periodically sag. Richard suggested restoring the tree pit and planting a tree. This was done. The photo was taken during the brief fall of snow on 24 January 2021.


In support of our policies to combat global warming and reduce carbon emissions, electric vehicle charging points are being fitted in lampposts in our Ward. The first locations are in Camborne Road, Stanley Road, Cedar Gardens, Langley Park Road and The Ridgway.

The photo shows the first vehicle that used the new charging point in The Ridgway. Given the policy to ultimately phase out petrol driven vehicles, a big and continuing expansion will be needed.

Sutton Council is working with Siemens to install Ubitricity lamp column electric vehicle charging points. Ubitricity lamp column charging points are compact and fit into the door of a lamp column.  
The aim of lamp column charging is to give residents the ability to easily charge electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles on the street where they live, especially if they do not have off-street parking or are unable to install their own home charging point. Installing residential charging points is important because a key barrier to people switching to electric vehicles is the concern around where they will be able to charge their vehicle. 

Not all lamp columns are suitable for lamp column charging points. The lamp columns need to be “electrically suitable”, be positioned near the kerb and have enough internal space to fit the charging point. They need to be sensibly located so that a vehicle could safely park and charge next to the lamp column. The lamp columns also need to be made of metal, not concrete. 

An “earth mat”, a small metal grid, is also installed in the footway next to the lamp column. This is to make the charging point “electrically safe” if there is a fault. There are signs to indicate that the lamp column has a charging point fitted, though this sign will not prevent non-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles from parking next to the lamp column. 

This is a major advance in our drive to promote electric vehicles and combat global warming.


In 1988 the South Sutton Neighbourhood Association celebrated the tenth anniversary of its foundation by funding a bench in Cavendish Road close to Ambleside Gardens. Richard noticed that the bench was, after over twenty years of use and exposure to the elements, in a very sorry state. He took action to get the bench restored, with the plaque explaining the history of the bench moved to the new bench.


Sutton South Ward – an affluent area with shocking pockets of poverty

At the meeting of Sutton Council on 17 January, chaired by Trish as our Mayor, Richard moved a motion drawing attention to the number of residents of the Ward living in poverty, the support they got from Sutton Council, and the need for Government to properly fund Councils, while increasing spending on welfare to help the poorest. This is the text of his speech:

“This motion is about poverty and the impact the pandemic has had in exacerbating the gap between the wealthy and the poor in what was already a very unequal society.

In current political debate the phrase “Levelling Up” is sometimes used, but in a vague and unspecific manner. I have always seen “levelling up” as a key political aim, but what I mean by this is the need to level up to help those in poverty. It is a preoccupation that is one of the reasons I have always wanted to play a part in public service and political life. I am a Councillor for Sutton South Ward, one of the more affluent Wards in a borough that is more affluent than most of the 32 London boroughs. But in knocking on the doors of my residents I sometimes find people living in shocking poverty, families crowded into small flats, well down the queue for social housing despite their crowded living circumstances, using food banks, often struggling to put food on the table, sometimes out of work due to long term illness but often in these circumstances despite working long hours in low paid jobs. The statistics are frightening – in a borough with a population of about 200 000 over 18 000 of our residents are in such poverty that they are relying on Universal Credit to feed themselves and make ends meet, while over 800 of our families are homeless and living temporarily in nightly-paid accommodation, often far from Sutton with all the problems of getting their children to school here.

Who is helping these families? Not the Government, and the low point was reached on the sixth of October of last year when, on the very day that the Government cut £20 a week from the welfare support to the poorest in society, making us one of the European countries that gives least help to the poorest in society from welfare, Boris Johnson made his famous closing speech to the Tory party conference which even one Conservative newspaper described as being like an after dinner speech full of jokey one-liners rather than a serious speech, talking in serious terms, about serious problems, given by a serious politician. We are still waiting for such a speech. I doubt if we will ever get it. And I think that even the Tories now doubt we ever get it. And in recent months it has become evident that the public at large have clearly recognised we will never get it.

The Resolution Foundation estimated that despite the minimum wage rise and other Government tinkering, the lowest paid fifth of households will lose £280 in support this financial year – and that was before the rise in National Insurance contributions was announced, and before the coming tidal wave of inflationary pressures became clear. This is a massive sum for those whose budgets are so stretched. Not a lot of “Levelling Up” here.

By contrast, what does local Government do? Despite the £36 million annual cut from our budget by central Government since 2010 Sutton Council continues to give priority to services that help the poorest, in accordance with our Liberal Democrat principles. We are one of a minority of Councils keeping Meals on Wheels going. We fund Admiral nurses to help families struggling with illness and dementia. We maintain a system of crisis loans and grants for those in greatest need, though central Government support for this was cut back years ago. We support families whose children are eligible for Free School Meals due to the financial position of the family, children who might otherwise go hungry over holiday periods. We can hold our heads high.

We have stuck to our principles and to these policies while maintaining our concern for financial responsibility – and despite the savings and cuts to services we have had to make over the years to balance the books as Government support has been cut. The pandemic has added a further layer of financial difficulty with demands for community support that the Council has responded to magnificently, but that have been expensive.

What this motion says is:

The pandemic has left many families struggling to survive financially

The actions of Government have not helped them

We are the key driver locally to spearhead the recovery of the community and help those in most need

We need to be funded properly and the welfare support to those of our residents who are the poorest in society needs to be restored.”


Many of our residents use Warren Park, and the footpath between the railway lines has a real rural feel about it. A small area of Warren Park is protected by a wooden picket fence, to prevent the area being trampled. This is an area of chalk grassland, an important area for biodiversity which encourages some unusual plants and butterflies. Earlier in the year the fence was extensively vandalised and the area damaged by trampling (and dog poo). There was discussion, which we were involved in, about whether the fence should be repaired, replaced by sturdier fencing that would be more effective but unsightly, or removed, with the biodiversity area abandoned.
Eventually it was repaired but within a few days it had been extensively vandalised again. It has now been repaired yet again and notices put on the fencing to try to explain the importance of the area and to appeal to the vandals to leave it alone.
We are not sure what the impact is likely to be but hope for the best. 


Ready for the snow

Real Christmas trees were collected from households over a two week period from Monday 10 January 2022. If you see an uncollected tree email Richard on


Richard and Trish have worked hard to ensure that there are plenty of grit bins at strategic places in the Ward. We need to know if they need topping up with grit.

Yet again this year Sutton Council again offered residents and businesses 10kg of free grit per household/business to collect from the Household Re-Use and Recycling Centre in Kimpton Park Way. This year a booking system and a number of other changes had to be introduced to help the operation run safely and in accordance with Government guidelines designed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Anyone visiting the site has to have a valid booking to be allowed access to the site and will need to show ID and proof of entitlement such as a Council tax bill. You can book a slot via the Sutton Council website.